One million species face extinction, expert warns

By Fabio Agrana

Panama City, Nov 12 (EFE).- One million species could be wiped out if the climate crisis and the illegal trade of animals is not averted, an expert warned on Sunday.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) chief Ivonne Higuero told Efe in an interview ahead of the 19th Conference of the Parties (Cop19) in Panama that much effort was needed “at a time the world faced a terrible planetary crisis, pollution problems, climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”

“We have to put a lot of effort into this meeting, so that decisions are made to prevent this loss of biodiversity,” Higuero said. “We are concerned that up to a million species may be lost in the coming decades.”

“If we don’t make the right decisions, we are going to have many more serious problems in future,” the expert continued.

Cop19-CITES, which kicks off on Monday, is expecting over 2,500 attendees from the 183 countries that have signed the Convention, senior officials from the United Nations environment agency and representatives from international organizations and NGOs focused on environmental issues.

Attendees will address 52 proposals for amendments to Appendices I and II that safeguard the protection to threatened species globally, according to Hidalgo.

Cites Appendices I, II and III are lists of species given different levels or types of protection against overexploitation.

The dangers and threats to the wild fauna and flora identified include marine overexploitation, over-logging in forests and the exploitation of habitats of plants and animals for livestock farming, among others.

The threat of climate change adds myriad challenges such as floods, droughts, organized crime and the illegal trade of species, which is fourth in the world after the trade of weapons, drugs and humans, Higuero added.

Corruption is also a “very serious” problem and plays a “very big role” in the illegal trade of species and the money that moves across borders, CITES’ chief continued.

In order to tackle this, participants at this year’s CITES summit are aiming to strengthen cross-border work to train police and customs officers to detect illegal shipments.

“There are many stories of people who arrive with a suitcase at the airport and it’s the customs officers who say ‘it seems to me that there is something strange that is happening here, we are going to investigate this luggage’, and they have found, for example, bird eggs whose sale is prohibited internationally,” she explained.

“Now that we have this meeting in Latin America, we are realizing that we must pay more attention, and do more training workshops to be able to combat crimes relating to the illegal trade in species that are listed by CITES,” she concluded. EFE


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